Letter from the USAC Chair

May, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

The contours of the International Ocean Discovery Program, which begins October 1, 2013, are clearly taking shape. The JOIDES Resolution is the U.S. facility for this program, and although the National Science Board has authorized funding for its operation through September 30, 2014, the FY2014 federal budget – and hence NSF’s budget for that year – is still unknown. Operations beyond FY2014 are contingent upon another authorization by the National Science Board, funding availability from the NSF and its international partners, and a long-term plan that balances funding for both science and facilities within the Ocean Sciences Division.

Despite these budgetary uncertainties, planning for future IODP research and operations is going forward, and a tentative expedition track has been announced for the next five years. It will be crucial to keep up proposal pressure along this long-term track, which begins in the Indian Ocean and will likely proceed through the south and southwestern Pacific and into the southern Atlantic by 2018 or 2019. The expedition schedule is only set through FY2015 and thereafter it will depend on the availability of proposals ready for scheduling. I strongly encourage you to discuss new ideas for research with your colleagues and consider organizing workshops around regions or objectives of scientific interest. The U.S. Science Support Program receives workshop proposals all year, with nominal deadlines of April 1 and October 1.

When considering new targets, your plans do not need to fit traditional two-month expedition lengths. You may submit ancillary project letters (APLs) to drill for only a few days along a transect, or proposals for operational time on the order of several weeks. However, given the trend toward long-term regional tracks and flexible operation times, proponents will need to think strategically about how many drilling days they need to achieve their goals. I therefore encourage you to submit a preliminary IODP proposal first. This allows you to present your basic ideas and, through the review process, receive expert advice on how to proceed. Preliminary proposals also provide a sense of geographic and scientific priorities within the community, which can inform long-term operations planning for IODP. The next IODP proposal deadline is October 1, 2013. In the meantime, I am pleased to discuss workshop and proposal planning with you.

All the best,
Anthony Koppers
Chair, U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling